JF&CS News December 2015

We improve people’s lives. That’s been our mission for more than 150 years. Of course our programs and services have changed dramatically over a century and a half, but our mission always remains the same, even as we respond to the ever-changing needs of the community.

Through our network of more than 40 programs, we strengthen families, enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and seniors, and provide a proverbial safety net for people in need. We carefully listen and respond to the needs of the community and then we respond quickly, innovatively, and compassionately.

We discovered that although there were programs available to address the medical needs of infants exposed to opioids and other substances, there were no programs that focused on the emotional and psychological challenges of being the parent of a substance-exposed newborn. With the generous support of JF&CS Board member Ellie Svenson, we responded by developing Project NESST (Newborns Exposed to Substances: Support and Therapy) to fill this void in our community.

When it came to our attention that there was an unmet need for the families of military members in Massachusetts, we launched Shoulder to Shoulder, an innovative peer-to-peer support program for the families of veterans and service members. The program, initiated by JF&CS Board member Jamie Grossman, pairs trained volunteers with military families for weekly, one-hour home visits to provide support while addressing the unique challenges faced by veterans and their families.

When we learned that one in three teenage girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, we developed TeenSafe with support from the Miriam Fund. Designed to give teens the language and tools they need to recognize abuse in an intimate relationship and the ability to respond if they see, hear about, or experience it, the program brings together experienced educators and trained high school students to engage teens in workshops that examine healthy and abusive dating relationships.

Last year, we provided direct service to more than 17,000 parents and children, people with disabilities, seniors, and those in need of food, housing, and financial assistance. While most clients come to us with one specific need, many clients wind up benefitting from multiple programs as we come to understand their particular needs and challenges. And although it might just be only one member of a family coming through our doors, the impact of our programs can be felt throughout the entire family and ultimately throughout the entire community. Aren’t we all better off when the parents of a substance-exposed newborn get the support they need? When the family of a returning veteran feels supported and has the resources needed to adjust to the return of a military spouse/parent? When teens can recognize and call out patterns of dating abuse? We improve people’s lives by strengthening individuals and families and then building upon their resilience.

Of course we can only respond to the needs of the community if you respond in kind. We need people like you to become part of the JF&CS family now more than ever. You can respond by becoming one of our more than 2,100 volunteers – people who are a vital part of our organization and who have an incredible and profound impact on the communities we serve. You can also make an enormous impact by making a donation to JF&CS to ensure that we can respond to the ever-changing needs of the community with essential services and innovative programming, now and for the next 150 years. We look forward to your response.

Originally published on the JF&CS blog.